Co-founder and co-owner of Eaglemonk Pub & Brewery
Owning and managing a microbrewery wasn’t always the plan for Sonia Buonodono. With years of business industry experience between her and her homebrewer husband Dan, combined with a love for beer, the idea became pretty clear. The Lansing area teacher began drafting up plans for Eaglemonk Pub & Brewery about 10 years ago.
“We built our house together,” Buonodono said. “So we thought we could build a business together.”
The two began going to conferences and trainings on how to start a microbrewery, and later looked for property. It was during the 2010 Olympics that the pub’s namesake came to light: Eaglemonk. The eagle represents a symbol of America, and monks traditionally make good beer at monasteries. Since opening in August of 2012, Buonodono admits she’s learned plenty of lessons over the years, both in and out of the business world.
The business has experienced a slow and steady growth, including the impressive 1,458 mugs hanging from the microbrewery’s rafters as part of the mug club. The lifelong membership is full of regular customers. All the mugs are made by three different local potters, something that’s important to Buonodono – keeping things local. Everything from the grains and hops used to make the beer on-site, to the fallen tree from the neighborhood that has been repurposed to be the bar top are local.
The arts are proudly represented and supported at Eaglemonk too, with weekly music nights, monthly art receptions and book club meetings. On the first Sunday of each month, there is an artist reception, featuring a different Michigan artist. While she’s busy managing the front of the house most nights, checking emails, booking bands to play and helping curate art for displays, Sonia also enjoys life behind the camera lens, as a professional photographer.
“Someday I might have a month on display,” she laughed.
Her favorite part of being the co-founder and co-owner of Eaglemonk Pub & Brewery are the customers.
“We wanted to create a very comfortable, inviting space,” said Buonodono. “We know a lot of our customers by name, and our customers get to know our employees.”
Camaraderie and a sense of community comes along with the cozy atmosphere of the bar.
“It’s really fun when regulars tell the new customers how the pub works,” she said. “It kind of feels like we have everyone over to our house every day.”
Being a part of the growing Lansing brewing and beer scene makes Buonodono proud to be the area’s first microbrewery. Contrary to popular belief, she says they don’t feel in competition, but rather, enjoy visiting other area breweries, bars, and pubs. Continuing to support locally made products, businesses and venues is important to her.
“We don’t consider ourselves competition as much as we do (consider ourselves) partners,” she said.
After all, it’s a love for bringing people together over beer that has made Eaglemonk what it is today, so you can bet its love and hoppyness that continues to grow.